Monday, March 3, 2008

China is speeding up its military buildup and developing high-technology forces for waging wars beyond Taiwan, according to the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power.

“The pace and scope of China’s military transformation have increased in recent years, fueled by acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, and far-reaching organizational and doctrinal reforms of the armed forces,” the report states.

The report also warned that China’s expanding military forces “are changing East Asian military balances; improvements in China’s strategic capabilities have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific region.”

The new weapons include road-mobile long-range nuclear missiles.

The report to Congress is required under 1999 legislation and is the only U.S. government publication providing a close look at China’s military strategy, and force structure and recent advances in technology.

The report stated that excessive secrecy by China about its motivation and decision making and key weapons systems are prompting fears over the threat posed by the buildup.

“Absent greater openness and transparency, international reactions to China’s military growth will understandably hedge against these unknowns,” the report said.

The report said U.S.-China defense ties are improving and that Beijing agreed Friday to set up a telephone communications link between the U.S. and Chinese military that could be operational this month.

Key finding of the report include:

• China’s military spending continues to increase by double-digit figures and that official Chinese claims of spending $45 billion are short of actual spending, which could be as much as $139 billion

• China has deployed between 990 and 1,070 CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to garrisons opposite Taiwan and is adding more than 100 missiles per year, including more advanced systems.

• Chinese computer hackers have launched sophisticated strikes on computer networks around the world in the past year, including U.S. government networks, that might be the work of the Chinese government.

• China’s strategy of defense includes conducting pre-emptive attacks “if the use of force protects or advances core interests, including territorial claims, for example, Taiwan and unresolved border or maritime claims.”

• China’s anti-satellite weapon test in January 2007 shows that the military’s space warfare capability is more than theoretical. Additional space weapons include jammers, laser blinders and microwave weapons to disable satellites and ground stations.

• China is engaged in “wide-ranging espionage” targeting officials, businessmen and scientists prompting more than 400 U.S. investigations..

• China’s military buildup is shifting the cross-Strait military balance in its favor, through a long-term expansion designed to fight “local wars” with high-tech weapons using speed, precision targeting, mobility, and the role of information technology as a force multiplier.

The report counters the findings of U.S. intelligence analysts who have sought to play down China’s buildup by saying it is limited to preparing to fight a war against Taiwan.

The report stated that while the near-term focus is on a Taiwan conflict. “long-term trends suggest China is building a force scoped for operations beyond Taiwan.”

However, the report said that China’s military currently lacks the ability to defend sea lanes that carry oil to China from the Middle East, but is discussing ways of doing so in the future.

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